A truly original, blood-soaked thrill ride, we could have waited another ten years for The Cabin In The Woods and it’d have still been worth the wait. We’re loath to say much more about the plot other than its central premise – five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods; bad things happen – as the sheer joy of the film is discovering what happens first-hand as the plot takes numerous twists on its way to a truly bonkers final act that is among the greatest finales ever committed to film. We kid you not: the final third leaves you awestruck with its relentless audacity and is simply glorious fun, capping off a cinematic experience you’re unlikely to have witnessed before.
Co-scripted by Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard – on directing duties here – and cult favourite Joss Whedon, it’s little surprise that the script is filled with numerous meta gags and even though time – the film shot in 2009 – has blunted the edges of some digs, the real achievement of the film is to constantly put the audience on edge. From the cleverly edited opening sequence through to the finale, you’d be hard pushed to work out how the film will resolve and when you think you know, it’s because Whedon and Goddard want you to think you do. It’s a shame then that if you’ve got the trailer fresh in your mind, one crucial plot twist is spoiled so we can only urge you not to watch the trailer before you see the film in the hope you manage to forget that one moment in the trailer which will dampen a reveal.
That can be our only real complaint – and it’s not even a film-based one – for a film that constantly delights helped by its strong cast led by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, who displays the easy charisma that led to him nabbing that role, and regular Whedonites like the always watchable Amy Acker and Fran Kranz on his jittery best here. The older cast hold their own as well with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford a superbly deadpan, blackly comic double act whose motives we won’t discuss here, but we can guarantee are gloriously twisted when revealed.
Overall, it’s a nigh-on impossible film to review simply because the moments we’d usually discuss, we wouldn’t want to rob you of discovering for yourself. What’s clear though is that The Cabin In The Woods is so highly inventive and deliriously entertaining that even once this initial discovery has worn off, further viewings certainly won’t be dampened by prior knowledge. Whedon and Goddard have crafted a film that will be immediately appealing to genre fans thanks to its self-knowing edge, but straightforward enough to appeal to a more casual audience who will be taken in by the easy chemistry of its leads and won over by its unique story, as long as they can stomach the overflow of gore (albeit in OTT, not Saw-esque serious, fashion) come its climax. Quite simply, The Cabin In The Woods is not only one of our films of the year – it’s one of our favourite horrors of all time.
A truly original, blood-soaked thrill ride, we could have waited another ten years for The Cabin In ...